Going right back to basics…

So I know very well about the 12 principles of animation, but what really are the main focus of the twelve principles?
Something that came across very clear after discussing animation with two amazing animators out there at the moment, currently working at Playdemic who I had the pleasure of meeting last week, was that there are really 3 main stages that any animation has to go through.

These were the main three points that came across as the real basics to what every animation must entail. The other 12 principles simply follow on and it seems mainly followed closely by squash and stretch, and then easing in and out. The best way to really understand these key points within animation is to look at everything around you. There was a great quote made by a famous animator whose name escapes me at the moment, but it goes along the lines of, animation is that art of making something believable. I believe it was Richard Williams within ‘The Animator’s Survival Kit‘. As with creating drawings and paintings, we create from what is real and then exaggerate that. Some very particular people I have been told to look at are the geniuses Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy and Buster Keaton.

I’m shocked that I never actually took the time out to watch these guys in action although I’ve heard so much about them. In a film student and animation student point of view, they hold so much weight in their on-screen presence with every move and motion heavily thought out. In a time where the only thing you could work on was your own actions and visual characteristics on-screen, it was key to have an impact and really effective timing with your actions and build on the anticipation to allow the viewers to follow the narrative or moment you were creating.
It’s good to enjoy and just slowly break down the sort of moments these guys create to understand the twelve principles a little bit more, looking at the footage and trying to break the shorts down into roughly the 12 principles but mainly looking at the 3 mentioned above. Once those are keyed out, I’ve been looking at how they would be then created to be exaggerated to have the feeling of believability but goes with something that Hanna & Barbera did in which it was exaggerated realism, almost to the point of surrealism. Once I have a better understanding of the human movement as well as looking at timing and anticipation, I can then place those skills into breaking apart animations and more specifically looking at the true greats of hand drawn animation, which mainly lie within Disney animators but with a few of course from various other places such as Hanna Barbera.

Here’s a brilliant long collection of Charlie Chaplin shorts that really display everything that the man created within his expertly timed comedy.


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